In my last post Sales Team Leadership Challenges in 2023, we looked at what the “new normal” has brought to bear on sales team leaders and their direct reports. The current generation of salespeople needs to be treated differently as they have new tools and processes at their disposal. The issue is…they need guidance and leadership to use those tools effectively. In this five-part series, we will examine specific issues and I will offer solutions you can implement immediately.
Part 1: Repairing Sales Disconnection
Sales disconnection happens when a business development person tries selling the same solution in the same way to different customers. The result is a scatter-shot approach to selling rather than a tailored, strategically defined program. The latter is mission-critical for short- and long-term success. It takes a systematic approach. Try out these steps and see what results you and your team generate:
Define the Top 10 Sales Accounts
Review your top ten strategically important accounts by revenue and loyalty. Determine precisely where each account is now relative to the sales plan you envisioned in January (if this wasn’t done, now’s the time…it’s nearly mid-year!).
Amend or Create a Sales Plan
Meet with your salesperson responsible for each account and review their strategic plan. You may find that it is either light on metrics, hasn’t been looked at in a while, or worse, doesn’t exist! This is where you can demonstrate your leadership and get them back on track. Develop a plan that is consistent with your customer’s and your company’s goals. Ensure that your direct contributes to and buys in on the plan with a strong sense of ownership. Approach your client with this revised or new plan so that they are confident in the direction your salesperson will be taking. Doing all of this upfront will help to avoid surprises in the future.
Measure for Success
If you haven’t already, it’s time to create benchmarks so that success can be measured. Jointly establish the commercial metrics that will drive the revenue you know each account can generate. It’s important that both your associate and you agree on these achievable goals.
Schedule weekly updates with your team. I can’t stress this enough. Bringing people together to discuss and debate a sales strategy is highly effective, cathartic, and fun. It also gives you a clear window into the abilities of the team and who you need to direct and who can help lead the team. It also establishes an important precedent: meeting together, IN PERSON to create winning strategies. While we may be in the texting and Zoom generation, nothing has replaced face-to-face engagement as a way to communicate. Make it happen!
Establish a One-on-One Connection
Group-think is great and creates an atmosphere of teamwork and collective success. However, it’s just as important that you meet one-on-one with your salespeople. You must share YOUR desire for this account, the impact of lifting sales, and that you believe in their abilities to achieve results. During this time, you will likely find your associates sharing more about their challenges than in the more public team meetings. As you listen, you are demonstrating that you are vested in their success and want to help them overcome the challenges. This will go far towards inspiriting them to excel!
These are the first sales solutions to implement now. Let me know how it goes. And stay tuned for my next post where we tackle another 2023 sales challenge!